Prince Charles delivered the Queen’s speech today for the State Opening of Parliament.
Rachel Youngman, Institute of Physics Deputy Chief Executive, said:
“The ambition of this Queen’s Speech to level up and rebuild the UK as a science superpower will only be met with the right vision for physics education, research and development. There is no levelling up without Physics – it supports 10% of UK jobs and it needs the right mix of funding and support to overcome the skills shortages we know we will face in key industries in the years to come.”
Prof Michael Grubb, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at UCL, said:
“The HRH speech appears to confirm that the government is not bringing forward any significant measures to enhance energy efficiency or to remove barriers to onshore wind energy – our cheapest energy options – nor change how we organise the energy sector in ways that would help consumers with the impact of energy prices over the next few years.”
On the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill:
Prof Dame Linda Partridge, Vice President of the Royal Society, said:
“Genetic technologies, including genome editing, can help address the environmental and societal challenges faced by 21st century agriculture.
“The Royal Society has always advocated that regulation of genetic technologies should be based on the outcome of any genetic changes, rather than the current focus on the technology used to make a genetic change. This approach would ensure that safety, welfare, and environmental issues are all considered, and that legislation is future proofed against new technologies. We have previously called for a public forum to inform decisions on gene editing uses.”
Prof Nigel Halford, Crop Scientist, Rothamsted Research, said:
“It is great news for plant scientists and exactly what we need to encourage plant breeders to invest in gene editing and translate great science into improved crop varieties. A lot of plant scientists will feel inspired as they go to work tomorrow after reading this.”
Prof Bruce Whitelaw, Professor of Animal Biotechnology and Director of The Roslin Institute, said:
“This Bill will keep UK agriculture at the forefront – through our pioneering research base in plants and animals.”
Prof Jonathan Jones FRS, Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, said:
“The proposed changes in regulation of gene edited crops are very welcome, and align the UK better with regulations outside the EU. However, they don’t go far enough. Crop varieties should be regulated on their properties rather than the method used to improve them. These new proposals still leave crops such as a GM blight resistant potato subject to the same excessive regulation as before.”
Prof Mario Caccamo, chief executive of NIAB, said:
“The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill announced today will provide a more straightforward route to market for seeds and crops developed using advanced breeding technologies such as gene editing. It sends a clear signal that Britain is adopting a more pro-innovation approach outside the EU, bringing our rules into line with other countries such as Japan, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Australia, and opening up much greater potential for inward investment and international research collaboration given the UK’s strengths in genetic science.
“Innovation in plant breeding will be the single most important factor in helping global food supplies keep pace with a growing world population, in the face of climate change and pressure on finite natural resources of land, water, energy and biodiversity. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has brought into sharp relief the precarious balance which exists between global food supply and demand, and the need to explore every option to increase food production sustainably.
“Access to precision breeding techniques such as CRISPR/Cas-9 will help accelerate the development of higher-yielding crops more resilient to pests and diseases, environmental conditions and climate change effects, food products with improved nutritional qualities, and reduced need for agricultural inputs such as pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.
“Here at NIAB we are keen to explore the potential for gene editing to transform the performance of leguminous crops such as faba beans and soybeans under UK growing conditions. These are neglected crops in terms of breeding effort, and yet the economic, environmental and climate change opportunities they offer, as Nitrogen-fixing sources of home-grown, plant-based protein for human and livestock consumption, are hugely significant.
“We are also using gene editing techniques to support early-stage research into fungal disease resistance in wheat, flowering time variation in strawberry plants, root architecture traits in durum wheat, enhanced nutrient and water use efficiency traits in wheat, microbial symbiosis in rice and coeliac-safe wheat – all of which have the potential to contribute to a healthier, more secure and sustainable supply of food.”
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